Thanh welcomes Charles Byrd to the podcast to discuss the ins and outs of working smarter with Evernote. Charles is a certified Evernote Expert and has tons of tips for creating systems, pulling up information quickly, and doing more with Evernote apps. Whether you’re an Evernote pro or just beginning to use this software, you’ll find a lot of valuable information in this episode.
Episode originally published 01 May 2017.
Thanh Pham: [00:00:06] Welcome to The Productivity Show, the Asian Efficiency podcast dedicated to helping you make the most of your time, attention, energy, and focus. My name is Thanh, I’m the founder and CEO of Asian Efficiency and as you can hear, I’m taking over today for Mike who is enjoying some time off with his family. The guy’s just been producing way too much amazing online course materials lately so I told him to take some time off. Let me run this week’s episode, which is all about how to work smarter and more effectively with Evernote. If you’ve been using Evernote you know how useful and powerful this app is, but you might feel like you’re underutilizing it. On this special Evernote episode, I’ve invited an Evernote expert. My friend Charles Byrd is a certified Evernote consultant, and he’s a Silicon Valley veteran. He’s used Evernote for more years than I have. He actually coaches and teaches entrepreneurs on how they should use Evernote to manage lives and businesses. Don’t forget you can find the links to everything that discuss in the show notes by going to theproductivityshow.com/141. And now, on with the show.
Thanh Pham: [00:01:23] Charles, my man it’s good to have you here on The Productivity Show. How are you today?
Charles Byrd: [00:01:29] Doing well Thanh. How about yourself?
Thanh Pham: [00:01:31] Man I just got back from lunch. I’m a little bit stuffed right now. Let’s let’s talk about Evernote because that’s what we’re going to be talking about today on this episode. Now you’re an Evernote expert and you and I got connected a while back. You’re a Certified Evernote consultant. You’re a geek when it comes to Evernote. Do you want to share a little bit of your back story of how you got started with Evernote and how you find out about us and how we got connected and all that?
Charles Byrd: [00:01:56] You bet. So I started in the Silicon Valley working for a software company. Basically I was managing 12 enterprise level projects at the same time. And I remember the executive staff who I presented to you regularly they they asked me to throw together a presentation in very short order and I knew I had all the pieces but I couldn’t put my finger on them so I was sitting in a in an office kind of sweating bullets thinking to myself I have to come up with a solution that lets me put my finger on anything I need quickly so I don’t have to stress in situations like this, and I played with Evernote because it had all this buzz and people are like you can run your business off of it. I’m like well it makes notes yay. How are you going to use that. But that specific rather stressful moment made me think I have to come up with a solution to manage high volumes of information and be able to access it very quickly. And so that’s that’s when I made the decision I’m going to I’m going to learn this app and I’m going to be productive with it. And that’s exactly what happened. So as far as following Asian Efficiency, I have to say you guys were one of the first people I ever followed online like because your message just resonated so well with the way my brain works and my curiosity for tools and optimizing and workflows and especially because of the work I was doing at the time that is necessary to be successful at that. And I I love the content you put out and I’ve been a big fan for a very long time so honored to be on your show.
Thanh Pham: [00:03:45] Yeah you’re welcome buddy. I’m glad we have you here because first of all you just know so much about Evernote. And we are big Evernote users here at Asian Efficiency. Most team members use Evernote, we always recommend it because it’s such a powerful app and it’s kind of rare to find other people who are really good at Evernote because first of all Evernote just has so many features. It’s kind of like Microsoft Word as has so many features you just don’t know about or it is just clouded by and and there are very few people who actually know how to use the app properly, you know I have another friend Brett Kelly who knows a lot about that stuff. And Stacey Harmon who was on a previous episode I believe TPS 96 where she talked about how she uses Evernote to setup her life’s dashboard and put stuff in there and live file free as she calls it. But I find that you have a different take on it because you have you have more of an engineering mind in my opinion. Were you like have that kind of approach to Evernote. So I’m really curious you know as we dive deeper in today’s topic how you set up Evernote and how you use it. Well you know I remember a while back I saw a picture of you and the CEO of Evernote. Can you talk a little bit about how you got involved in that and how you got started with like just being certified and then meeting the CEO of Evernote.
Charles Byrd: [00:05:03] Yeah. So when I left the Silicon Valley and decided to start my own company I got into the online education space and I was listening out the different things I could teach on and basically that the top of the list was Evernote because I was just reflecting on what has helped me the most being productive both professionally and personally. And since that was at the top and I have a very sweet system that’s been field tested for for years and very optimized. I was like I want to share this with people to save them the headaches that you know come with not being able to find things when you need them. And so once I created a course on it I was invited by Evernote to join their certification program. And so I jumped at that opportunity and am in Evernote Certified consultant, and they invited just recently they had an event on their campus with their executive team and the CEO and they invited me and other certified consultants and some members of the local public to come to an event. And so I got to meet the CEO and it was kind of fun because not only getting to meet him which is fun in itself but I told him I built this course and through marketing online we’ve reached over five hundred thousand people in the last five months with the message of Evernote and his jaw dropped. He was just like oh my goodness. It was. It was fun surprising him that way. And then I also have him on camera talking about well we use the term kill the chaos a lot in our message kill the chaos of information overload and I got him on camera saying that as well so that would be fun. When we launch that next wave. But yeah just just meeting him and the team they’re so supportive and dedicated to their principles which include you own your information. They’re very into privacy and they’re very into optimizing people’s lives and you can just feel it that they’re passionate about those. As am I. So those principles so Meeting him was great and the whole team and yeah I’m just I feel fortunate to be in a position to spread the message of how people can get organized using Evernote.
Charles Byrd: [00:08:30] OK so I have studied up on this. And I I speak and teach all around the U.S. and Canada so I get these questions all the time. So basically from a privacy perspective unlike other companies such as Google who Evernote is good friends with those guys. But Evernote does not go through your information whatsoever for marketing purposes or or any other purpose so if you type a search term in your local tool all it’s doing is looking within your own Evernote data set. So there’s there’s nothing cloud sourced or basically. Privacy is one of the key pinnacles of their business model and they’re basically principles they’re running the company from. That gets into the security side of things so I’ll mention any data transfer between like your phone and your Mac which goes through their servers anything like that. It’s 256 bit encrypted. Their employees do not have access to the data. The only time they would look at your data is if you gave them permission like you said I’m having problems with this specific note. And you’ve contacted their support and you give them permission to look at that note then. That’s the only time they have access to it. So they absolutely take privacy very seriously and I trust their system completely myself. Everyone needs to make their own personal judgment for what they put online or share online. But I put basically everything in there because it’s a secure system. You can even have two factor authentication where you have a password and your texted a pin. If you’re dealing with highly sensitive information or have concerns that’s enterprise level security and their data centers are secure and so forth. So I trust the system. I always tell people to use their own judgment. Do what they feel comfortable doing. But I’m a huge advocate and I live and breathe it and put all kinds of information in their personal and otherwise yeah.
Thanh Pham: [00:10:49] I’m very much the same way. I have like a copy of my passport in there, my driver’s license, my Social Security not so much because I just know that digit in my head but everything else is pretty much in there. Like if somebody hacked into my accounts they would have access to a lot of stuff. But like you said I have two factor authentication set up. It’s pretty secure in that sense. I’m pretty cautious about security and so I do have two factor authentication for pretty much everything set up to the point to where when I was in Tokyo a couple of weeks ago people on the team couldn’t even renew a domain name because two factor authentication was only connected to my cell phone number. That’s just the extreme level where I go to. But that’s good to hear. I’m glad you shared that because we just have so many people in our community especially in the dojo, like lawyers, people who work in the medical industry, people who work with clients and they share sensitive information they’re always concerned OK. Can I put stuff in there. And from my point of view it’s completely safe. I’ve never had any personal issues. All the Evernote experts I’ve talked to they all say like yes it’s completely safe. You can put it in there and it’s not being used for marketing purposes so the only barrier I can see that some people might have is saying- their thought process is along the lines of Well you know it’s in the cloud it’s not on my own server. So I don’t know 100 percent. And if you’re that person than you know I totally get it. And if you want to host something yourself I totally get that. And you know solutions like DEVONthink might be better for you, if you’re OK with putting stuff in the cloud. I think Evernote is a superior product.
Charles Byrd: [00:12:30] Yeah and I’ll mention you can create notebooks within Evernote and designate them not to sync which means all the information is local to that machine. So you can still use Evernote. The downside to that of course is it doesn’t sync between your other devices which is one of the massive benefits of Evernote is everywhere you go you have every piece of information with you.
Thanh Pham: [00:12:56] I didn’t even know that. How do you how do you set that up? Is this just to right click on a notebook or something?
Charles Byrd: [00:13:01] Yes exactly. And you can set it up not to sync. Now it’s got downsides to it because it loses track of its functionality. But for certain things if you want certain content to share and other content well share is the wrong word but sync you have a path to do it as well. So some people working in highly secure corporate areas that their security teams don’t want things to sync. You can still use it not have it sync.
Thanh Pham: [00:13:37] I didn’t know that, I think would solve a lot of problems for a lot of people because they still want to use Evernote but then keep it locally. So this could be a good solution for them them.
Charles Byrd: [00:13:46] Yeah absolutely.
Thanh Pham: [00:13:47] Cool cool. Well that’s the first tip. I know you have a lot more so I’m glad we got that question out of the way because that’s just a hot topic that we have. You know one of the things I really want to ask you on behalf of other Evernote users that we have in our community is I see a lot of Evernote users do things a certain way that just makes my head explode and I just think “please don’t do this.” But I’m really curious to hear, and I’ll share mine in a little bit, I’m really curious to hear, what’s like a really common mistake that you see people make. People who are new to Evernote they just downloaded it or they’ve been using it for a little bit. They make that same mistake over and over and over again. I’m really curious to see and hear from you because you’ve worked with so many entrepreneurs, so many people, you’ve reach hundreds of thousands of people teaching them how to use Evernote. What’s the like. The one thing you see over and over and over again that you wish that they didn’t do?
Charles Byrd: [00:14:42] OK well there’d probably be a few things from — we’ll start with the most basic and I will mention 92 percent of people have heard and heard of Evernote, in your audience it’s even higher, three fourths of them already have it and then frequently I’ll ask how many of you have it and know you could be making better use of it. And almost three fourths of the hands go up. Now you have more advanced productivity minded audience which I absolutely love. So that percentage is a little lower. But one of the common mistakes is getting it and then not regularly applying it. There’s not a consistency to its use. And so the magic with the way I see it is we have three Three-Legs of the milk stool, so you have tools, workflows and habits. So you might get Evernote, download it. Create your account, and then put a few things in there but you don’t have consistency to how and what you put in. And then also when you capture it how you’re organizing it or tagging it or which notebooks you’re using. So a very common mistake is that inconsistency of what’s going in and frequently and it’s kind of no fault of anybody’s but people will just dump stuff in there without any organization structure at all. They’re using it as a repository for everything but it’s it’s haphazardly organized meaning it’s not organized it’s just collecting stuff. And actually you’re you’re better off than most people by simply collecting stuff. But through some very simple strategies for capturing it in an organized way and a more consistent way. That’s when the power of the tool exponentially explodes because if you’re capturing things consistently and tagging which I’m sure we’ll be chatting about. That is the power that enables you to put your finger on anything you need within five seconds and things get pretty wild from there when it converts to time savings and removing a layer of anxiety where you don’t know if you can put your finger on something or not. It eliminates that and empowers you to be better at everything you’re doing.
Thanh Pham: [00:17:07] So what you’re saying is the more you use it the more you put stuff in there. The more powers and features you essentially unlock of Evernote.
Charles Byrd: [00:17:17] Yeah it’s basically the more you use it but in a structured way meaning when you capture something you’re tagging it right then and also getting in the habit of just capturing your ideas right when they pop in your head. If a receipt is handed to you. Getting that in Evernote right then, cause the problem one of the pitfalls is inconsistency. So let’s say some of the receipts you’re putting in there and other ones are not. So when you go looking for one it’s a little bit of roulette if it’s in there or not because that’s that’s a behavior trait it’s a ritual it’s a routine a habit. So that’s one of the basic things we help nurture in our students is simply listening for that little bell in your head that tells you this is important. I might need it again. That’s the trigger or the cue to capture it. And then while you’re capturing it just throw an appropriate tag on there. And that’s how you’ll find it in five seconds or less.
Thanh Pham: [00:18:22] Mm hmm. Yeah that makes sense. What I see. This is actually one step before that, or one step before actually before that bell that you just mentioned. But what I see people making the mistake of is that they have Evernote but then they don’t know where to store certain pieces of information. So for example a lot of listeners will have something like a task manager like OmniFocus, then they have something like Evernote where they store notes, and then they might also have you know something like nvALT on their on their Mac, where they quickly write down notes. They might also use like like a text file where they store stuff and so they have all these different vaults or inboxes. And so whenever they think about something and they think OK where do I put this. They get this analysis paralysis of like where do I put stuff now. And so what I see a lot especially in our community is that people don’t know where to put certain pieces of information. And so for me it’s relatively simple I only have like three in-boxes really. So on the Mac I have OmniFocus. So if I know if it’s a task if it’s something doable then I put it in OmniFocus just straight away boom it’s in there. If it’s just something I want to remember then I just put it into Evernote just like open up a new note write it down real quickly and just put it in there and just a piece of information. So this could be like a phone number. This could be like oh this is really smart. I should do this or this is really smart maybe it doesn’t apply right now but I should do this later. Like for example a certain concept or some idea. When people can make that distinction of. Is this a task or is this just a piece of a piece of information then it’s really easy to know where to put something. But I find that most people just don’t know what that distinction is and so then they put it all over the place and then because of that then they don’t use Evernote or don’t use it to full capacity and then it leads to other you know frustrations and challenges.
Charles Byrd: [00:20:22] I think that’s a very astute observation that can be a bottleneck unless there’s a system in place that you just know inside and out and it just becomes inherent or innate in the way you’re thinking and managing information. And you raise an excellent point because there’s so many different apps and tools and resources at our disposal that it can be very tricky where you’re like wait where do I put this particular piece of info versus that particular piece of info. So I like how you mentioned you only have those three inboxes. And here’s my default approach to it. In-general Evernote is the go to for almost everything. So if I’m sitting down with a client or a student for a meeting I’ll take those notes in Evernote and I’ll tag it with the person’s name I’ll take it with the word notes and then whatever the subjects are that we’re speaking about and when there’s an action in my note taking I’ll capture it right there if there’s an idea or anything like that it’s all in one place. Then when I hang up I’ll take the specific actions and cut and paste those into my task management tool which is Todoist. And in the notes of the task I’ll put a link back to the Evernote note that gives it far more context but like you were talking about a phone number. I’ll put that in Evernote and all the tag contact info and the person’s name and anything like that like an idea that you come up with. By the way here’s here’s a pro tip, if you come up with an idea. Write it down right then because you’ll think that was such a great idea I’ll remember it two hours from now. You probably won’t, write it down right then and tag it with idea. Very straightforward in fact tags can initially feel like oh what’s the tagging system. It’s actually just a basic analysis of what is this. If it’s a phone number you could even use the tag phone number. And you talked about having your passport in Evernote. Guess what tag my passport is under? It’s going to blow your mind– passport. You know you can just. Is this a receipt. How about that for a tag, so tags actually don’t have to be complicated at all you just say what is this and then tagged it as that. And so choosing the tool by default Evernote is the tool and then as it is part of our workflow to a task management system or with our teams with Asana or anything like that even I use a mind mapping tool called TheBrain. I think you’re familiar with and I’ll have all have hierarchy’s in this and that in a tool like that. But for the deeper dive info it’s a link back to a note in Evernote. These are how you can get a beautiful workflow between multiple systems.
Thanh Pham: [00:23:23] Ooh. I want to I want to dive deeper into that before we get into the whole tagging debate because I’m really interested to talk about that as well. What’s your workflow when it comes to TheBrain, mind mapping, Evernote, task management, because that’s the geeky stuff that we like to geek out on.
Charles Byrd: [00:23:39] I love it too. I love it too. So again the foundation of everything is Evernote if I had to strip out all the other tools Evernote would be the one on top. But since we’re not in a constrained world we have access to these other tools so I gave a brief example of how in any type of meeting or any time there’s notes along with tasks I’ll capture it in Evernote and track the individual tasks in a task management system frequently linking back to the note that gives it more context. So that’s how I use it with task management systems with TheBrain. Even the free version of The Brain you can– the paid version you can add attachments and this and that, in the free version you can add web attachments like URLs. And so the cool thing is let’s say you’re mapping out this beautiful hierarchy in TheBrain of of your business where I use a lot because I’m meeting people and introducing people every day of my life and I track every introduction. Who and where they came from were the specialty areas our skill sets. And so I tracked that in TheBrain. But if I have more info on a person I’ll simply make an Evernote internal link which is a control option command C. It’s very simple to press. And then in TheBrain you can paste that link in. So you’ve got all these beautiful relationships for how your business works or people relationships or whatever you’re mapping. But you can take that back into Evernote where the content is and reason that’s so amazing is when you have that everywhere you go with your mobile device the the core content is in Evernote to start with yet you can have the benefit of a relationship based hierarchy. Using a tool like TheBrain.
Thanh Pham: [00:25:34] Oh yeah. Like I’m a big fan of like copying the note link and then integrating different apps with it because it just makes organization so much easier. So one of the things that we teach in our courses and also have talked about on the blog is not only using the copy Note Link feature but if you hold I believe it’s option and then right click on it it shows you copy the local version of it.
Charles Byrd: [00:26:00] Yeah that that shortcut was the local version and for a public link meaning you could share it and someone outside of your Evernote account or company, it’s command forward slash and that makes a public link which I use almost every day of my life as well. Working with partners or teams or students where you can collect info and a note for them or access to copywriting or or anything like that research and share it with anyone whether they use Evernote or not which is killer. I was just on a woman’s podcast who lives in New Zealand and we shared info back and forth using Evernote and it was just really cool. I always love seeing things in action the the way where you’re optimizing how it’s used just tapping into the features sitting right in front of us.
Thanh Pham: [00:26:55] So I’m really curious to hear about how you set up this work flow to work for you. So you mentioned you use Todoist, you use TheBrain and then Evernote together. So let’s say you’re working or you’re starting a new project let’s say you know how we hung out in San Diego. Yeah I’m sure there’s a big thing that you set up you know you’re brainstorming like OK we met at a conference we’re going to go to conference. I’m going to meet these people. Here’s an action plan like how does that sort of process look like do you start in Evernote just outlining things and then– or do you start in TheBrain. Start mind mapping stuff and then linking it to Evernote for more info and then translating that into Todoist? Or how does that sort of process looks like when you start a new project or an idea?
Charles Byrd: [00:27:39] Yeah, great question and I would say it depends on the project but for for like the live event we put on, a month ago where we had probably 17 people come to our workshop, a Mastermind that I put on to plan something like that. The process is as follows. Create new note. I have a tag called working space and also planning. So this is just where you’re initially getting your ideas out like what’s this event going to be what do we want to do. Who’s going to be involved. What locations are we looking at. And it’s called working space because it’s it’s like draft one of getting an idea into the world. And so from there what I’ll do and I teach this in my course I love this concept and it’s making a note. Let’s say that it’s been refined a little bit. We’ve had a few team meetings and so forth. I’ll make something called a master note where it is the go to note on a particular project or topic and let’s use a live event for an example. There’s many elements to making a successful live event. There’s the marketing there’s the location there’s the planning. So let’s say you are doing location research for a live event you’re putting on you could have a master note where you have those lines like event research, finding a caterer, this or that, but those link to other notes where you actually do the research on different locations so you can kind of make this interconnected wiki kind of situation with interlinking notes. But one master place you can go to get everything. So my workflow certainly involves what I just mentioned and then like for the for the live event we’re also meeting with a lot of different partners. So I’ll — in TheBrain I’d create the name of the bigger event we were all at and then kind of list all the different people I was meeting with interviewing lining up trainings or promotions with. And then I’d have this beautiful visual array through TheBrain of that who’s who’s been booked who’s you know we’re still coordinating with and frequently those will link back to different Evernote notes of the conversations with the partners. So that’s how you can create a new project, start a plan, start refining it, create a master note, and then if you need a kind of visual relationship hierarchy tool snap the two together as simple as creating a few links.
Thanh Pham: [00:30:25] Wow that is awesome. So then I can already see if I just think a couple steps ahead if you work with a team and you put it in something like Todoist or even Asana, or in our case like Jira. You can then start copying the notes to Evernote for more info but then just detail the task in your task management system or collaboration platform.
Charles Byrd: [00:30:46] Absolutely. And things evolve further. You’re right. Working with a team because we use Evernote business through the the business side of it which most people may not need but if you have a team and you’re working with contractors, employees, vendors, you can have a company based account where you’re accessing the same content and manage who has access to what through notebook permissions. And that’s exactly how we do it. We use Asana, we use Evernote, and we just intertwine the two, we use Slack. And so we have automations where a new Evernote note is created it will ping a Slack channel like there’s so many beautiful ways to integrate these tools.
Thanh Pham: [00:31:32] How does the integration work, is that done through Evernote itself natively or Zapier or how is that- How does that work?
Charles Byrd: [00:31:38] Yeah Zapier is how we’re doing the one where every time a new Evernote note is created on the business account it will ping a channel. So you kind of have this workflow timeline of different notes that were created or were always documenting our processes or there’s customer service. FAQs and workflows tracking each step of anything that’s a duplicatable process. We’re tracking that in Evernote. And then if you want to see kind of what the latest happenings are you can just take a peek at that Slack channel.
Thanh Pham: [00:32:13] That’s awesome. That’s awesome. This is why we love you Charles. This is why this type of geek-ery workflow and system is so amazing because we actually do something very similar. So we use, we are pretty much bought into the whole Atlassian suite. So we use Hip Chat, we use Confluence, and then we use JIRA. So if you think about– if you had to translate it, it would be something like JIRA is like Todoist or OmniFocus, HipChat is just like Slack, and Confluence is kind of like Evernote, it’s just a little bit more enterprise-y, kind of thing and basically functions as a wiki for us. And what’s great about it is that because it’s created by the same company it all integrates together nicely as well. So if something gets created in Confluence it will ping a certain room in HipChat. If a certain document gets updated it will certainly ping certain people in certain rooms, so that tight integration. I just find so powerful because like you said like earlier like the five second rule– you should be able to find anything within five seconds. And by having that type of integration in place making it all work nicely together. Man it’s just so much more powerful and so much more efficient and there’s just less friction because, as you know, the more friction there is upfront, the less likely you’re going to do it. So the more you can remove that the better.
Charles Byrd: [00:33:33] That’s critical and yeah I’m I’m also an Atlassian fan. I’ve been to their offices in San Francisco and actually met with some of their executive team. They’ve got a cool thing going on. Yeah I think natively integrated suite like Atlassian provides that’s that’s great. I’ve been exposed to Confluence and their other tools. The neat thing is you can use tools that don’t have native integrations but still make them feel that way simply by using the internal links which again I use them every day and highly recommend them because you can take tools that have no formal communication between them and make them behave as though they’re they’re one. So it’s a really awesome way to go.
Thanh Pham: [00:34:22] I agree and that’s why I think the Apple ecosystem is so powerful because for example if I copy a note link, like the local note link in Evernote, into OmniFocus and add that as a description, anytime, on my, even if I say if I did that on the desktop but then I open OmniFocus on my iPhone and I click or tap on that Evernote link it will open the native Evernote app on my iPhone pointing directly to that note. So even though those two apps are completely separate completely created by different companies they work natively so well because of the callback links and all that stuff. So I’m with you on that.
Charles Byrd: [00:35:01] Yeah that’s awesome. I play with that stuff too. It’s always it’s very satisfying when you click a link and it’s opening in the native app just makes them feel like they’re all part of the same ecosystem which in a way they are.
Thanh Pham: [00:35:15] So you mentioned your course I know you have an Evernote course, and if you’re loving this content so far guys, we actually are going to do some live training together. So Charles and I are hosting this live training event and we’re going to teach you more about Evernote. We’re going to dive deeper into it. So I was going to wait till all the way till the end. But I’m just so excited about this because if you’re loving this you’re going to love this live training, so if you go to theproductivityshow.com/evernote and sign up there you’ll be signing up for the live training we’re gonna be doing together and you won’t want to miss this because we’re going to dive deeper into this stuff. We’re going to show you visually how to set it up and use it and all sorts of goodies so definitely sign up there. But Charles I want to get back to the tags thing, because I know you’re a tag user. I’m actually not a tag user. I’m a notebook guy. And anytime I have discussions with people about Evernote I ask them Are you at tagger? Yes or no. If they say yes I’m like OK I don’t know if we can be friends now. But I know you’re a big tagger and one of the things I liked about you and your approach is you actually use tags very efficiently and you know maybe it’s just like a horror experience that I’ve had in the past when it comes to tags, why I don’t use them anymore. But I’m a big notebook guy. I like to organize things by notebooks. I like to keep it flat so I don’t use a lot of stacks. I’d just like to keep it one dimensional so I like to organize things by notebooks and I think that’s also a reflection of how are organized for example my hard drive. It’s very organized by folder.
Charles Byrd: [00:36:46] I’m glad you mentioned that because when I, when you’re done asking the question I want to get back to that point.
Thanh Pham: [00:36:52] OK. So I know you’re a tagger. So convince me or let’s share with the listeners why you think tagging is so powerful and why you use it and how you use it to the best ability.
Charles Byrd: [00:37:06] OK. So here we go. Most people when they start with Evernote they start making notes and then they figure out they’ve got a bunch of notes and they’re like oh I should organize this which is a good idea. And the default people go to are notebooks and the reason is when we were in school we had different notebooks for different subjects. When we got our first job or started our first companies we had different clients or projects and we had different notebooks for that too. But I’ll give you some some what I would think are pretty solid reasons why tags give you an upper hand and there’s certainly scenarios where notebooks would be a better choice. And the cool thing is you’re not constrained by one or the other you can use them in combination. So if I make a note let’s use you and I having a meeting for example and we’re talking about productivity and we’re talking about maybe a product launch and we’re talking about a training. If you’re using the notebook paradigm you can only put a note into one notebook so it’s limiting you to one specific notebook. You can put that in so if you and I are meeting I can put it in the Thanh notebook, I can put it in the education notebook, the product launch notebook, for talking about Evernote, the Evernote notebook. Which one do I put it in. I only have one choice but with tags I can put as many tags on a note as I feel is appropriate from one to as many as you want and I sort of feel from a structure standpoint Evernote is more designed for tags and what I mean by that. Clearly they have both, is you can only have up to 200 notebooks but you can have 100,000 tags. It’s engineered for heavy tag use. And so the cool thing is the way I teach Evernote I have 90 percent of my notes which mind you is 27,000 notes. They’re all in the same notebook because I can use tags you can almost think of tags as notebooks except you can now magically put a note into his many notebooks as you want. Now those notebooks are actually tags. So depending on what we’re talking about if I’m meeting with someone I will put their name as a tag I’ll put the word notes as a tag and then whatever the subjects are online training or whatever we’re talking about product launches and so without even going to the notes search window. Just within the main notes area at the very top of the list of notes there’s a little icon that looks like a tag and you can simply click in there and type If I was looking for a receipt I just start typing receipts it comes up. I hit enter. Then I can click there again and then start typing a name of a particular business. And it just refines down the list immediately. And I haven’t had to look through any notebooks in fact I was at an event and a woman who is very proficient with Evernote she was using a notebook system and she was good at it. She knew how to use it. But we we played a little game and we both had flown to Banff Canada for this small entrepreneur conference and I said let’s time each other on how long it takes to find our flight itinerary to get home. So I hit the clock on her and she’s got a great system. Her stuff was in there and I believe it took her something like 52 seconds to dig through the notebooks and she got it. And I said Cool watch this search for the tag travel and the city named Banff. I had it in five seconds. So that’s why I feel tags. I’ll say always win, but really I mean usually win, notebooks have their place too because when you’re sharing content with third parties or employees or vendors, notebooks are how you control who has access to what. So there’s still always room for for notebooks and especially if you’re using the Evernote Business that’s actually made me start reengineering a new method for business because it does require notebooks for kind of segmentation of who has access to information. But from a personal user standpoint tag’s win every time and here’s the circle back to your talk about how you organize files on your hard drive you and I are both Mac users, a few OSes back. They added tags for managing files so you can do the same the same skillset that you learn to use tags with Evernote you can use to find files on your hard drive. So I just have a flat structure. There’s a few folders in there of course but in general if I want to find any video assets for a promotion, I just go to search and type tag, colon, video or tag colon asset or tag colon Asian Efficiency and bam anything related to that is in front of me and I just typed a few characters.
Thanh Pham: [00:42:22] OK I’m almost convinced, I really like that system. Here’s a couple of things that come through my mind and some of the high fact finding things that just pop in my head. So let’s say I want to find the receipts, right now it’s 2017. Let’s say I want to find the receipts that is in 2014. Let’s say I had it all the way back there. How would you then search for it because are you are you like tagging every receipt as like the year that you put it in, or like if you scanned it with a picture like how would you find something like that very quickly?
Charles Byrd: [00:42:59] I actually have a fun story about a receipt but I’ll answer your question first. I’ll say it like this it kind of depends. In general I’ll just tag it receipt and I’ll tag it with the store name because in general that’s enough. Like any particular store I’m not going to have–maybe Amazon’s an exception since that gets quite a bit of use. So yeah for something like Home Depot I’ll just put receipt and Home Depot as the two tags. But if it’s something you’re going to have a sprawling list then I would recommend adding the year in, there’s a story. You might have heard me say this but I have a killer receipt story and it involves a recliner in my house that a bolt fell out and when I’d sit on the thing you’d fall out the side it was not very relaxing. So I called the store that I bought the furniture from and asked for a repair person and they said no problem one will be out tomorrow. Something cool this is working out pretty good. And I live near the country so I was walking my dog, Lucy the 2 year old labradoodle. And there’s vineyards to the left and sheep grazing to the right and the phone rings and it’s the repair person. And he says I’m an hour– I can be there in an hour but I can only come out if you give me the original invoice number from the receipt from seven years ago and my jaw drops. I’m like who the who –Who on earth would have this? If I was at home where would I even look for it. But I’m hanging out with a dog and sheep. And then I’m like hold please– launch Evernote, search for the tag receipt. Search for the tag name of the store the original received from seven years ago comes up on my screen. I read him the number and he comes out and fixes the chair. I love that story because but some random stuff who’s going to have that. Not most people but if you have a habit and a system for I got a receipt I’m not going to picture tagging it. 2014 receipt. That’s precisely how I would find it. And if you’re doing like a ridiculous number of transactions maybe in a business scenario at a certain store you could even tag it with the Month or or something that just lets you pin point down a little more. But yeah that’s how I would tackle a receipt.
Thanh Pham: [00:45:23] Mm hmm. And especially with Evernote since it has really powerful search functions and operators you can even get geekier if you wanted to. But that’s a whole different ballgame and it’s own Pandora’s box. Since you are the tag master here and I know this is something you cover in your Evernote course but what are some of the tags that you use or that you would recommend to others to start using and that you just find you’re going back to over and over and over again.
Charles Byrd: [00:45:51] Sure. And it does become I can assure you it becomes second nature type of endeavor like I remember when I first started using tags. I was concerned about getting too many tags and I wanted to leave it like a very clean list maybe 12 tags maybe 20 tags we don’t want this getting out of control. And then I figured out that actually wasn’t serving me when when you’re saving something you want any particular trigger that that you can retrieve it with. So the whole point is to give it more context. So common ones you’ll use. To me it really in a way it’s very simple. It’s a common sense based approach to it by you’re just analyzing what what it is you’re putting in there. So if you’re putting a receipt in a very easy thing to put on there as a tag would be receipt the store name. We talked briefly about the passport scenario, how many notes are you going to have under the passport tag maybe one maybe for other family members it’s not like it needs a lot of use. You just need to be able to get to it. So I would recommend that people not be afraid of too many tags you just want to use logical names so if you bought something at a particular store use that store name and as one tag and then receipt for another for another what would be a terrible tag is Costco receipt for January 25. That’s a horrible tag. But Costco and receipt would be a great tag or book research. I just say look at what it’s about. If your iPhone screen broke and you were researching places you could add the tag research and another tag iPhone. So you know meeting with a person put their name as one tag. So if you’re meeting with someone all the time you’ll end up with notes collecting under that. And even if you met someone once it’s not hurting you to have a tag sitting there that doesn’t get a lot of use. In fact like I mentioned I barely ever even go to the tag’s window of Evernote. I do it all from the main notes area using the little tag icon dropdown for for searching so that a little input related to the strategy I use to apply tags.
Thanh Pham: [00:48:21] That’s interesting because then you don’t actually have any overhead or maintenance when it comes to tags because you have a somewhat of a good standard in terms of. From what I can interpret as long as you use one or two words at most that kind of identify it’s that’s all you really need. So like you mentioned receipts travel passports like these are all one word. Right. So that makes it easy to find stuff. But if you get really descriptive saying something like let’s say you have a tag called receipt for Home Depot in San Francisco. Well you know that’s a little too like being descriptive It is a good thing. Except for tags, because you want to use one or two words.
Charles Byrd: [00:49:02] Yeah. So in that scenario you’d have– in fact they do this a lot on trips. So the same scenario as a store in San Francisco you could use the city name, receipt, the store name. So on a trip, I travel all over the place and so I use tags like if I book a flight and then I get the confirmation all tag it with, travel,, flight and then I always make a master note for trips so that like if I’m going to Toronto or New Orleans or Austin or wherever I’ll tag it with Austin travel and then in that master note there’s links to the flight info, to the Airbnb, to the people I’m meeting with or talking points for an audience I’m speaking to. It’s all at my fingertips and I’m not hunting for anything because I’m using tags in a way where I can find anything related to that particular trip, A through the master note or B just by typing Austin I can pull up anything related to something I’m doing in Austin.
Thanh Pham: [00:50:10] OK. OK. I’m starting to see a lot more opportunities unlocking in my own brain now so I’m going to have to sit down and rethink my Evernote strategy. So I appreciate that.
Charles Byrd: [00:50:21] You bet.
Thanh Pham: [00:50:22] So really random question. Do you have an executive assistant helping you out with stuff or does she help you with Evernote?
Charles Byrd: [00:50:29] I sure do. I’ve got a team that’s actually grown just since the end of last year. Yeah. Actually we’ve been hiring at about one person a month. I’m not sure we’ll do that indefinitely. But yeah so I’ve I’ve needed to adapt the system for working with a team and we absolutely use every now as part of our everyday workflow because we’re training thousands of people a month and basically to organize the different trainings and the different promotions. Evernote is an integral part of the workflow and how we collect info how we share with our partners how we share content with students. And so we actually document the workflows. These are things that we just do every day it’s kind of develop a workflow and then make it a cookie cutter process and Evernote can be very powerful for a team collaboration.
Thanh Pham: [00:51:31] I’m glad I asked you that because we have a future podcast episode coming out on how to use executive assistance and part of that is working with Evernote and calendars and all that stuff, so I’m glad you’re using it. And like you said I had to adapt my system a little bit as well. As soon as I started using my executive assistant to help out with stuff. I’m glad you brought that up because we’re going to dive deeper into that in another episode. But the final question I want to ask you before we wrap things up is as you know one of the strengths I think Evernote has in my opinion just across from all the note taking apps that are out there is that it’s pretty well integrated with other apps. A lot of other apps in the Apple ecosystem they support Evernote they have features that allow you to quickly save into Evernote. Like I mentioned earlier you can copy a note link and put it into OmniFocus and then it will natively open and stuff like that but also my email client PostBox you just have like a button in the toolbar that just says save to Evernote. And if I click on that it just goes straight into Evernote and I have an e-mail saved in there, so I use this a lot for newsletters that I read or emails that are just jam packed with information like most Asian Efficiency newsletters. If I can toot my own horn for a little bit, but I just love the fact that all those apps are just supporting Evernote, integrating it. So I’ really curious to hear what you do. What kind of apps you use that you use in conjunction with Evernote. Because one of the things we talk about at Asian Efficiency all the time is just like, if you choose an app make sure you pick an app that is supported by other apps in your ecosystem so that they can work together. Because if you have different apps that don’t talk to each other you end up with a lot of data isolation as we call it, just like places in different things and information that’s all over the place and if they don’t talk to each other it’s just really inefficient. So if you can have your email client working together with your Task Manager you can have your emails, you know related to tasks. Same thing with reference notes in Evernote and so on. So that’s why we always recommend they use certain email clients with certain note taking apps that you use, with the task manager. You kind of have the system already set up with Todoist and Evernote, and TheBrain. But I’m curious to hear, are there any other apps that you use that integrate well with Evernote?
Charles Byrd: [00:53:47] Absolutely and I’m glad you mentioned it especially related to e-mail which we we still all spend plenty of time with e-mail. I use an e-mail app called Newton which I’m a big fan of it’s very clean. Just kind of a pleasure to use because it’s designed beautifully but one of the most amazing things about it it’s a subscription based app. It has something called superchargers which integrate with other applications including shock and awe – Evernote and also Todoist and Asana and others so the cool thing is if I get an important email from a client or a blog email that has great content I want to save. I don’t have to go anywhere. Straight from Newton there’s a button where you’d initially create the integrations like with Evernote or Todoist. And then from there I can capture an email into Evernote and tag it along with adding any other notes I would like straight through Newton. So I’m not switching apps. I’m not forwarding the email although sometimes I’ll forward an email into Evernote but in general you’re absolutely right. When you have tools that talk to each other it makes for a beautiful workflow. So I’ll use Newton, I’ll capture– I do it every day every single day. I will capture emails from from Newton straight into Evernote and tag it, and then I’ll also use the Evernote email address when I’m sending basically any e-mail out. I’m copying my Evernote email address so that email is also captured in Evernote and then like you mentioned with iOS for example most any app where you might be dealing with attachments or content. There’s a little rectangular box with an up arrow. And when you press that you can choose different apps to send that information to. So Evernote’s one of them, I use that all the time you can do that from the Safari browser. You can capture a web page straight into Evernote just by clicking that and you can see other apps that you might need or want to share it with. But as far as Evernote goes I use that every day and you can drag that icon to be the the first option and therefore when you’re looking at attachments or web pages or anything like that you can save it straight into Evernote through your iOS device which I use that all the time too, and teach that in the course because it’s super useful. Anytime you doing research on the go or or whatnot having tools that bring these workflows together just creates so much space and gives you a lot more control of being in charge of meeting your goals and having satisfaction you have a system you trust that’s always there for you.
Thanh Pham: [00:56:46] Yeah I’m a big believer in just the whole integration part. So I’m glad you brought up Newton because it’s really well integrated. And when I saw Newtown first come out being so well integrated I was like Oh man I maybe should switch over at some point. And I know Mike likes it. You know he says it’s you know like like it is a little bit pricey. But if you do save a lot of time I think it’s definitely worth it. One other thing that I find this is kind of related but one feature of Evernote that I just cannot live without is the Web Clipper because I use this all the time like I’m a web Clipper abuser. So literally just click click click click click. Everything that I want to keep. Like whether that’s an interesting article. So one question we get asked all the time is like what do you do with articles you save in Evernote like how do you use an injunction with something like Instapaper or Pockets. And my answer to that is most stuff I actually put into a Pocket that I just want to read later so it’s like interesting materials on the plane or if I just sit on the couch or something like that. But if I want to use something and really reference it if I want to use something that is say OK I want to study this I want to say reference this later for marketing purposes or just studying it a real dive deeper then put it into Evernote. And I do that because sometimes websites go down. Sometimes information is not accessible anymore in the future. And so I find that if you put it into Evernote knowing that you really want to reference this this is not just for leisure reading or just studying but really want to reference that study on a deeper level then put it into Evernote and just keep it there. So I’m curious how do you use the Web Clipper and just articles you want to read later in general?
Charles Byrd: [00:58:28] You bet. And of course there are situations where I might use a different tool but in this scenario it always goes into Evernote. I don’t use Pocket or other tools like that different scenarios I might. But yeah. So I would capture it in Evernote with the web Clipper. I also use Skitch. It’s a product for Mac and iOS that Evernote makes for capturing content that’s yet another tool I’m using every single day. So with the web clipper for example there’s a great blog post on productivity or you know something that I want access to in the future. Doing any type of research. I’ll use the web Clipper. I will tag it right there with you know whatever the appropriate tags are for what I’m looking at then like if it’s something I want to circle back on later, A you could just use a built in Evernote reminder, B you could capture it there and then add in OmniFocus or Todoist, to go back and that’s where you’d drop a link in to get straight back to that article. But that’s something I I use every day and I just try to keep that ecosystem as Evernote centric as possible so I don’t have to remember this type of content is in this tool versus that. Now of course that still happens like for password management I use one password for that with my team I’m using LastPass. There are still situations where you’re not putting everything in the same place. But what I would say is if that little were going back to that little bell in your head where you’re like I might need this in the future or I find this really interesting or this is my flight confirmation that’s when you just capture it right there and then tag it with the appropriate tag. And if a reminder is necessary then great. And if I’m on the go and just don’t even have time to manually add a task like that I’ll just set a reminder on my phone. Remind me in two hours to go back to that article and read it.
Thanh Pham: [01:00:37] Charles, this has been amazing. This has been jammed packed with content this is just so much and I’m sure all the listeners are going to be enjoying this and implementing this. So first of all thank you so much for sharing. I really really appreciate it.
Charles Byrd: [01:00:50] Yeah man. My pleasure. I get excited about this stuff and to think there’s a glimmer of chance that I would redirect Thanh’s Evernote to use tags. That’s that’s kind of a fun concept.
Thanh Pham: [01:01:07] Well I’ll keep you posted about that because I’m going to have to re listen to this again so I can like take notes myself because I was just so engaged listening to you and just thinking through my head like oh this could be so much better. I can visualize how I will use it differently now so I really appreciate you everything sharing just talking about Evernote and we could talk about it for ever about Evernote. We’re just literally just scratched the surface, we could talk about Skitch, we could talk about going paperless, we could talk about OCRing stuff, we could talk about like Evernote Business, you know maybe we should just have you on in a future episode where we can talk even more about that stuff. But this has just been the surface you know, like guys if you love this stuff well I want to tell you a little bit about this training we’re going to be doing together. So if you want to learn more about Evernote then definitely join us on those live training Charles and I will be hosting together this upcoming week. So we’re going to show you exactly step by step how to set it up. How to use Evernote. We’re going to dive into the mechanics of how to use it, organize it, tags and all that stuff like we talked about today and go even deeper into it. So if you loved this content today you’re going to love this live training. And best of all it’s free. Guys there’s nothing you’ve got to pay for no credit card down or anything like that. Just join us for live fun session where you’re going to learn from Charles and myself how to set up Evernote. Use it to its best ability. All you have to do is just go to this one link. It’s going to be in the show notes as well. But if you want to go now just go to theproductivityshow.com/evernote, so I’m going to repeat it one more time. Go to theproductivityshow.com/evernote. Sign up right there and you’re going to be locked in because we only have a limited amount of spots available. So make sure you claim your spot right away as you listen to this. And if you happen to listen to this at a later time you can still go to that link and grab some free Evernote stuff that we’re going to have on there. And we’re going to give that stuff away for everybody that signs up as well. And we even might have a recording available to you. So definitely subscribe today and get your Evernote fix right there.
Charles Byrd: [01:03:10] Yeah. We’ll cover the big why why this topic actually matters so much to you being able to meet your goals both personally and professionally. We’re going to cover all the core elements and features of Evernote so that will be useful for people who are a little newer to it. And then as we cover those topics we’ll be wrapping around some of these higher level integrations and showing you right there. So it’s going to be really exciting. I’m looking forward to it.
Thanh Pham: [01:03:37] Yeah we’ve done this training one time before and it was a huge huge success like we stayed on for like two hours. One thing that impressed me the most was the Q&A session just the questions that got asked. Not only the quality of questions but the number of questions, I remember Charles just staying on for like an extra hour just answering questions just going on and on and on. You know we were just geeking out about Evernote the whole time. So I would love to have you there. And like I said go to theproductivityshow.com/evernote, and you can find all the links to everything we discussed today in the show notes as well. Just go to theproductivityshow.com/141. Thanks again for listening, and we’ll see you in next productive Monday.
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